Speculative Poetics

By Derek Newman-Stille

Speculative poetry tends to be largely ignored, cast between pages of short stories deemed superior by those who crave narrative hegemony, treated as filler. But there is a power in speculative poetry, a question forged not just of content but of resistance to the hegemony of grammar.
Poetry speaks to me as an artist. Used to pulling together myths in images into a frame, poetry is, in many ways, the closest parallel in words to what I try to do with paint. It is a blending flow of word into word, creating a snapshot moment of beauty.
There is a play with words that a poet can evoke, a teasing of meaning and potential from phonemes, speaking to more than the assemblage of letters and sounds. Because of their economy of words, poets need to pack a multiplicity of meanings into each syllable, encompassing often contradictory potentials in each word. They play with the cultural history of semiotics, questioning the ontology of language.
Some poetry has to be spoken aloud, tasted on the tongue as it rolls forth made of breath and myths and worlds formed of licks.
Poetry reminds us that words are worlds, myths built in themselves, and they shouldn’t be cast to the fringes of speculative works, but find their own position of interest, inviting the reader to speculate in a different way, explore those spaces and Spaces between letters (galaxies of meaning in themselves).
I would like to see speculative poetry find a place more central in the genre, not treated as a dirty secret cast into the dark spaces between short stories, closeted in dirty laundry. I would like to see more anthologies, speculative magazines, and other collections search for powerful poetry, rather than often defaulting to that which resembles a short story cut off too soon, and instead bring attention to poetry that plays with words, speculates about meaning, and constructs worlds inside of words.

Original Art By Derek Newman-Stille  http://www.dereknewmanstille.ca/
Original Art By Derek Newman-Stille

Derek Newman-Stille

4 Responses

    • Great point! I would love to find out from authors what they are drawn to in terms of other speculative arts. I would imagine that there are great opportunities for inspiration when exploring other media.

  1. i accept the argument and support the idea.

    for me, though, too much speculative poetry comes across as…”forced” at best…and at worst, the very worst kind of smugly self-satisfied navel-gazing that reminds me of any Seinfeld episode i ever managed to stomach watching.

    • Good point. I think a lot of anthologists don’t know what to do with spec poetry… and they tend to either select materials that end up being too literal or they assume that incomprehensible means that it is a great representation of ‘high culture’.

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